Braley takes heat for missing VA hearings

Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) is under fire for missing a number of hearings of the committee that oversees the Veterans Administration.

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Republicans are pouncing on the fact that Braley attended just 4 of 19 full committee hearings while he was on the Veterans Affairs Committee during the last Congress, and local papers are picking up on the story.

Braley's campaign points out that he attended many more subcommittee hearings, 15 of 17 for the congressional term. That means he was at 19 of 36 hearings overall, slightly more than half.

He also missed some of the hearings for other official business including conflicting committee hearings, classified briefings and visits with wounded warriors.

The low attendance for a committee overseeing the VA, which has been embroiled in scandal, could hurt Braley on the campaign trail.

"With an absentee rate of 78 percent on the Veterans' Affairs Committee, it’s clear Braley thinks his time is better spent pushing Barack Obama’s job-killing agenda than ensuring that our veterans receive proper care from the VA," said Iowa Republican Party spokesman Jahan Wilcox in a recent statement.

Braley's opponent has also faced questions about her attendance record. Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) was criticized during her primary for missing a lot of time in the state senate so she could be on the campaign trail.

Braley's campaign fired back with a quote from a local veteran.

"As a veteran, I think it's wrong that Joni Ernst and her allies would try to inject partisan politics into veterans issues. To suggest that Bruce has done anything but fight for Iowa veterans is misleading and dishonest," said Iowa native and Army veteran Ron Healey. "Truth is, Bruce has been an outspoken voice for Iowa veterans — he fought the Pentagon to get back-pay that was denied to hundreds of Iowa National Guard members, he fought across party lines to improve veterans' disability benefits, and passed tax cuts for small businesses to hire veterans. "

Republicans have looked to tie Democrats across the map to the dysfunctional VA.